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Russia's Invasion of Ukraine: Islamic Perspective on War

The world is watching in horror and disbelief as Russia invades Ukraine. In 2022, it's hard to believe that there are still political leaders who know the impact of war, all the destruction, the death, the displacement that it causes, and are still rushing into war for no good reason.

The development of just war theory and the modern conventions ensure that the sovereignty of each state will be respected. One would expect that war is the last thing on the minds of people. Every effort would be made to stave off war. There must be a justification for getting into a war. One of the principles of just war theory is that war must be a last resort. It's after you've tried everything else. Moreover, from the inception, there must be a just cause. The just cause may be self-defense.

If your country is being attacked, naturally, you have the right to defend yourself, your country, your property, your people.

However, the attacker needs a greater justification. For example, the attacker may cite injustices that need to be corrected. Is this the only way to correct that injustice or are there other means?

One must way the cost of war. That's one of the principles as well. The cost of going into battle is like what you're trying to achieve. If what you're trying to achieve is the plus, all the negatives of war are all the minuses, one must balance the pluses and minuses and decide, if the war is worth it?

Or sometimes the situation is bad, but you just must live with it because going into war would just make it worse. Or are you want to remove an oppressor. In this case, we don't even see who the oppressor is. Unless one might say the one who is attacking here is the oppressor. The justification for this war is flimsy. This just makes it more horrible. Since a justified war will have all of the horrors people being displaced in large numbers, seeking refugee status in other countries, fleeing out of fear, people in bomb shelters, a woman explaining on TV that she's trying to explain her to her child, “Why do they have to get down on the ground every time they hear a siren?” All these horrors and terrors of war should be avoided at all costs. They do not have any place in our modern world.

There’s wonder about international law because this is the instrument that we must stop a war. However, in this case, doesn't seem like we can do anything. Russia is a permanent member of the security council, and it's still doing these things. The Western countries themselves, Canada, the United States, and other countries don't really have the moral impetus to do anything because they've been acting in ways that violate international law as well.

That draws attention to the basis on which the security council has been formed. Why is it that some countries like Russia have veto power? If Russia turns out to be the aggressor, how is the council going to rule against this aggressor? It must have been thought that these countries that would have the veto power, would be the most responsible states. As a result, they could use their veto power for the greater good of humankind.

However, when it turns out that one of these superpowers or another, would use their veto powers to block progress toward peace and the betterment of people overall. They would use it only to secure their own interests, then the whole thing needs to be revised. We have to say, “Let it be fair and square across the board so that all countries have an equal right to participate so long as they uphold the principles of truth, justice, fairness, and establishing peace.”

One of the things that came up in this situation is a certain degree of hypocrisy. To elaborate, one of our allies is committing injustice, invading another country without just cause. One lets it slide, and one supports and sends our troops along with them.

On the other hand, if another country does the same thing, and it happens to be not one of our allies, then we'll come down very strong, in condemning that action. Dr. Shabir Ally needs to be fair and square across the board. Denounce all such invasions into the sovereign states of other nations. We should call for peace and global stability.

Pope Francis released a very nice statement that condemns the war via Twitter. Pope Francis stated, “Every war leaves our world worse than it was before. War is a failure of politics and of humanity, a shameful capitulation, a stringing defeat before the forces of evil.”

What about Islam? Does Islam have any viewpoint in Ukraine?

While we spoke about just war theory was developed after the Quranic Revelation. Nonetheless, we see that the Quranic Revelation and the incidents within the life of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) conform remarkably to what later came to be described as just war theory.

For example, the principle of not going into war without just cause, the Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) did not go into war without just cause. The Quran stated, “If God did not repel some people by means of others, many monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques, where God’s name is much involved would have been destroyed.” Quran [22:40].

Therefore, this calls for the defense of the places of worship and gives a justification for war. Moreover, it says that these people who are now given permission to fight, that is the Muslims in particular, are given this permission after they have suffered much at the hands of their enemies. The Quran stated, “Those who have been attacked are permitted to take up arms because they have been wronged – God has the power to help them." Quran [22:39].

Consequently, they were driven out of their homes, and they were being persecuted only because they said that our Lord is God. They are given permission now to defend themselves in battle after they have been persecuted and attacked over a long period of time. This is the only way forward. We spoke about using war as a last resort, one of the obvious things that comes before war is the attempt to be at peace and to establish treaties.

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) established what is referred to as, “The Treaty of Hudaybiyyah.” That treaty was more in favor of the non-Muslims and against the interests of the Muslims. We could see on paper because when we weigh what they're getting against what we're getting. Some of the Muslims found it hard to stomach at the time, according to the story that is recorded in the books dealing with the life of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH). Yet, the Quran refers to this incident as a great victory surprisingly. That is reflected in the 48th chapter of the Quran, which is called. “The Chapter of the Victory.”

The Quran stated, “Truly we have opened up a path to clear triumph for you Prophet.” Quran [48:1]

A victory is usually associated with the result of a war. Either one is victorious, or one is defeated. Yet, the Quran was calling the treaty a victory because that treaty established peace. In peacetime, others were able to listen to the message of Islam with a fair mind, and many came to embrace that message as their own, they became Muslims. Moreover, the Muslims were winning, not by defeating their enemy in war, but by winning them over as friends and faithful people.

There are many people who are distressed about Ukraine. We should advise people to help people in Ukraine. Maybe they can donate to different causes. There are many different organizations that are working to help people, to encourage our governments to open the borders, and allow the people to find safety.

All the above and our prayers are with people who are suffering because of this war. Also, our prayers are for the people in Moscow and elsewhere who are opposing the war. However, due to the heavy-handedness of their government, they do not have the full freedom to express their view and their opposition to the war. We pray for guidance for the political leaders as well.

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